This Much I Know: Crime Writer, Patricia Gibney

This Much I Know: Crime Writer, Patricia Gibney

Becoming a writer was a dream that I had at the back of my mind.

I used to scribble short stories and poetry, but it was just a fantasy until recently.

After I left school, I joined the Civil Service in Dublin, then moved to the NEHB and finally I worked with Westmeath County Council. I worked in administration, which was using a different side of my brain, I think.

I was a studious and shy child. I always had my head stuck in a book, so some might say I lived in words not the world. I blushed if anyone looked crooked at me, and I think I still do!

My father worked in the ESB but was always writing poetry and plays. I must have inherited it from him. Both my parents are big readers and instilled in me a love of books.

After my husband Aidan died in 2009, aged 49, following a very short illness, I went through a dark period in my life and my health deteriorated to such an extent that I was unable to continue working. After initially taking up art, I started to write as a form of therapy and to give my life a goal, something to focus on besides my own grief. I decided to write a novel. I participated in writing courses, and set up a local writer’s group. I signed with my agent, Ger Nichol in January 2016, and six months after signing with her, Ger secured my first publishing contract with Bookouture. My debut novel The Missing Ones was published in March 2017 and I now have seven crime novels published.

My earliest memory is being carried on the back of my father’s bicycle to my grandmother’s house where a neighbour’s daughter picked me up and walked me to school. I remember I had a small whiskey bottle filled with milk for my lunch which is odd because my parents and grandmother were all pioneers.

I write in the mornings and find that I am unable to write in the afternoon or evening. I think that comes from when I wrote my morning pages but it helps keep the balance, though coming towards a deadline, I can actually write until midnight. I like to walk at least an hour a day. It helps me think and plot.

Now that I have deadlines, I am, more or less, disciplined. Before I signed with Bookouture, I was undisciplined in my writing, a procrastinator, and that’s why it took me almost five years to write The Missing Ones. I am now writing two books a year.

The best advice I ever received is to finish your first draft. It’s so easy to get lost in the murky middle and to start rewriting rather than going forward.

The trait I most admire in other people is honesty.

My main fault is that I’m a perfectionist and full of self-doubt.

My idea of happiness is being able to live in the moment. I am a constant worrier and I think if I could learn to live in the moment, I would be happier.

My idea of misery is not having a book to read.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Audrey Hepburn filming Roman Holiday.

I always said if I won the Lotto I’d buy an apartment abroad, but with the current state of homelessness in our country, I think I’d now rather fund a homeless shelter.

The thing I find most irritating about other people is insincerity.

My biggest challenge was struggling through grief after Aidan’s death.

I think you can have a talent but if you are not ambitious you might not do anything with your talent. In order to reach success, or even to get a book published, I believe one goes with the other. And a little luck comes in handy too.

With regards to writing, I’d say my main skill is being able create characters that can carry a story.

One thing I didn’t learn in school, which I wish I had, is confidence in my own ability.

My greatest fear is the blank page.

So far life has taught me to never give up and to try to live one day at a time.

Patricia Gibney’s latest book Tell Nobody is out now published by Sphere. This is book 5 in the DI Lottie Parker series. It tells the story of 11-year-old Mikey Driscoll who is on the way home from playing with friends. Two days later, his body is discovered on a bed of wildflowers by some local teenagers and the case is assigned to Detective Lottie Parker.

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